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X-ray observatory

On 7 April 2003, the first catalogue of X-ray sources discovered by the XMM-Newton satellite was made available to the scientific community. This document, which records tens of thousands of stars and galaxies emitting X-rays, is a key corpus of data for high-energy astrophysics.

X-rays are evidence of particularly violent events occurring in the Universe at very high temperatures, including black holes, explosions of stars, and galactic nuclei. To detect and observe these electromagnetic waves, which are invisible from the ground, astronomy satellites must be sent into space equipped with specific types of telescopes.

The XMM-Newton observatory was launched in 1999, the same year as its American rival Chandra. The unparalleled sensitivity of XMM-Newton has enabled scientists to significantly improve the quality of X-ray astronomy data, and to discover thousands of new X-ray sources. These observations help the scientific community to better understand a certain number of mysteries, ranging from the creation of black holes to the origins of the Universe itself.

ESA has extended the XMM mission until 31 December 2012.

(X-ray Multi-Mirror)
Initiator ESA
Origin project selected as part of ESA’s Horizon 2000 programme
Participants ESA member countries
Status currently operational
Objectives detect and study X-ray sources
Launch date 10 December 1999
Launcher Ariane 5

Last updated: January 2009